School to rebuild iconic water wheel


In 1911, Brightwater’s first five street lights were switched on when the hens came to roost at night.
Power was supplied by Kohatu farmer Robert Ellis’ water wheel at the Brightwater Flourmill. The only problem was he did not have a switch to turn it on and off. Instead it was up to the timing of the chooks who would sit on a plank in the evening and turn the power on.
Ellis St was named after the farmer who was also the first supplier of electricity in the region.
For Brightwater School’s 125th jubilee the iconic water wheel will be reconstructed and turned into a feature at the front of the school.
The water wheel has been the school logo since its centenary in 1988. The school’s current sports uniform had the water wheel emblem imprinted on it and there are windows around the school that depict a water wheel.
It will be made in time for the 125th jubilee held on March 22 and 23 in 2013.
Current principal Gerald Baldwin was hoping to use “as much local labour” as possible but had not confirmed who would construct the water wheel. “To have a working water wheel in the school that we can turn on and off and the kids can see will make sure people remain talking about its history for years to come,” he says.
Brightwater School students will study the history of the water wheel in term four of this year.